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AJ lodges complaint over Good Hope Centre

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The Al Jama-ah party have lodged a complaint with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities against City of Cape Town director Mr Anton Groenewald. It’s been alleged that Groenewald delegated authority to hire out the Good Hope Centre on terms, conditions and costs determined by him.

Party leader Ganief Hendricks said Groenewald is implementing a directive from the Mayor Patricia De Lille to use his delegated powers to issue an instruction to the booking office to not take any further bookings for the Good Hope Centre as from June 2015. The City is entering into a long term lease with a film company to hire the Good Hope Centre, which has not bee profitable.

“The Malay Choir Board has a mandate from 50 000 supporters who participate and attend its competitions to fight for the right to continue using the Good Hope Centre for the eight weekends a year that it needs it,” said Hendricks, referring to the annual Top 8 Choral Competition.

He said that the Board has used the facility for decades and there is no other suitable venue for its participants and supporters in terms of acoustics, space, breakaway rooms, catering facilities, parking and location.

The party has also instructed its councillor in the City of Cape Town to appeal to the City Manager Mr Achmat Ebrahim to overturn Mr Groenewald’s decision, which Hendricks feels will harm the Cape Malay community’s heritage.

Al Jama-ah also said that it wants the commission to determine whether it has the jurisdiction to deal with the complaint and then to refer it to the South African Human Rights Commission for investigation.

Hendricks said that while the party has lodged the complaint, it has put in place a team to prepare an oral presentation at the complaint hearing. It will get further input from other opposition parties and ask them to join Al Jama-ah in the action it has taken.

Furthermore, he said that the party will largely rely on the Commission’s statutory duty as a section 22 Committee under the direction of a member of cabinet to promote the right of communities to develop their historically diminished heritage.

In response, the City of Cape Town said if the political party has any issues with the city officials in question, they should it take up through the correct channels. With regards to the lease of the Good Hope Cente, the City’s media manager Priya Reddy said repair costs of the venue were estimated to be R16 million and therefore an alternative venue would be more feasible . The City was approached by a number of film companies to consider the temporary or short-term use of the facility as a film studio and has commenced with this process.

“The proposal is that the Good Hope centre will be used as a temporary studio for about 3 years, which may consist of either of a single tenant or a combination of tenants from the film industry. Once all the details has been finalized, we will issue a public notice in terms of their asset management policy for short term leases.”

Reddy said the City will embark on a consultation process with communities and any objections will be considered within a legal framework. However the City has stated that current vendors have been given more than four months notice in order to look for alternative venues. She reassured the council were working with all organizations to find alternative placements at other City facilities and locations in the peninsula.

Other alternative venues include the Belhar multipurpose centre (MPC), Athlone MPC, Mitchell’s plain MPC, Athlone stadium as well as the Green point urban park among a list of other venues. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)

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